Now we come to the next installment in this series which started with the 11 Stylish Portraits from the 17th Century. Today we’ll be tackling the most stylish portraits from the first half of the 19th century the period which started with the empire dresses of the Napoleonic period and ended with the corsets and crinolines of the Victorian period.
This portrait showcases the Spanish fashions of the time. The sitter wears a typical Spanish Maja. Maja outfits were popular with the lower classes of Spanish society and were exaggerations of traditional Spanish dress. Majas were common subjects of painter Francisco Goya.
The Empire dress reached its greatest popularity in the years following the French Revolution. While simplistic classical-inspired clothing had been growing in popularity since the 1780s it became a way for the upper classes to separate themselves from the extravagant aristocratic fashions of years past.
Princess Charlotte was the heir of George IV before she tragically died in childbirth at the age of 21. The dress she wears is similar to a blue Russian inspired dress she wears in another one of her portraits by George Dawe.
During the 1810s decade, a new fashion emerged for wearing rich colors instead of the classically-inspired white of the earlier part of the century. Although, this crimson evening gown that Mary Lodge wears still has the similar silhouette of the earlier gowns.
This portrait features the sitter wearing the popular French fashions of the time. She also wears a floral wreath around her head, interestingly this was the last aristocratic portrait of a lady that Goya did.
The 1820s decade saw the waistline of dresses lower, which continued to lower as the century progressed. The dress features puffed sleeves which became a key style in the nineteenth century.
This portrait features a young woman wearing a red gown with a satin waistband. Her shawl is paisley which became a popular print in Europe following the introduction of Indian Patterns from the East Indian Company.
The trend of lowering waistlines is seen here on the Duchess of Berry. Her headdress marks the beginning of a trend that would remain in fashion for the next few decades.
This portrait shows the extravagant hairstyles of the 1830s, a decade that is basically the nineteenth-century version of the 1980s. This showcases the fashion of Germany in the 1830s and demonstrates how the trend for puffed sleeves had grown since the previous decade. It also shows the early stages of a more hourglass silhouette that was a departure from the Empire styles of the early part of the century.
Now we are firmly in the Victorian era of fashion, the waistlines of the dresses in Western fashion had lowered again. This gown of Louise d’Orléans is red velvet and shows the pointed bodice and bell-shaped skirt that became the ideal silhouette of this decade.
This portrait of Maria Carolina Augusta of the Two Sicilies features the pointed bodice and bell-shaped skirt of the 1840s. As this isn’t a full-length portrait it allows us to see more detail of her pleated bodice which is visible through the black lace she wears over the top. Maria Carolina Augusta’s hair is also styled in sausage curls and parted in the middle, a popular hairstyle of the time.